wigging out

peter case. photo by ann summa.

peter case. photo by ann summa.

Helping to redefine the phrase “wigging out” this year is the great pop songsmith Peter Case.

Born of a post-punk past as chieftain of The Plimsouls, Case has amassed a library of consistently strong solo recordings that shift from fully realized pop to roots-savvy blues to Americana-based folk. But since his commercial success never quite equaled the heights of his critical reputation, Case remains a working musician who tours constantly between recording projects.

That changed in January 2009. After a medical test revealed 99% blockage in a coronary artery, Case underwent double bypass surgery. He was hospitalized for only five days, but spent much of last year recuperating enough to hit the road again.

“It was a long year of recovery,” Case said. “All of a sudden I went from doing my thing 100 miles an hour to having an operation,” Case said. “It took a while to get back up to speed. I felt washed out. It did something to my whole spirit. I was just really beat. So it just took a bit of time getting up to speed. But I’m feeling a lot better. The doctor says I’m good to go.

“You know, we joke about this all the time – ‘Why do we play rock ‘n’ roll? Because we can. It’s a real joy and a real gift.”

With that, Case quickly recorded a new studio album called Wig!, a collection of quickly recorded, electric roots-savvy songs cut with guitarist Ron Franklin and X drummer DJ Bonebrake. Case doubled on guitar and overdubbed Hofner bass on the mostly live recordings.

“The inspiration for something like this comes from two or three main places. The first is probably Sam Phillips of Sun Records, then maybe Chess Records and also the records that ended up coming on Fat Possum by Junior Kimbrough and R.L. Burnside. Those records capture a lot of atmosphere. They capture a lot of the feeling of the music as it’s going down. I love those kinds of records.

“Every once in awhile you have one of those experiences yourself, an experience you’ve always wanted to have. We just went in and cut this thing from 11 in the morning to midnight. It was a real fun day.”

Peter Case and Will Kimbrough perform at 8 p.m. July 20 at Natasha’s Bistro, 112 Esplanade. Tickets are $15. Call (859) 259-2754.

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